Gelatin gummy dog treats are easy to make, healthy, and our dogs love them! In the current FAQs, Tips, and Troubleshooting mini-series topics, we’re sharing (and drooling) all about DIY dog treats. Although these are technically chilled dog treats, we’re such big fans of gummies that they deserve a special post all to their own. We always have some sort of gummy treat in our fridge. Here’s an introduction to making homemade gelatin gummy dog treats, treat storage, and handy tips and tricks.
Why We Started Using Bone Broth and Gelatin with Our Dogs
Health Benefits of Gelatin for Dogs
Gelatin is full of potential health benefits and it’s those benefits that led me to get over my ewwww factor and start making gelatin treats. Oli could use all the help I can give him for his ageing joints and mobility, but it’s not just for seniors. Not only is gelatin packed with protein, it can be beneficial for other aspects of general health including metabolism, digestion, liver function, bones, skin, coat, etc.
Gelatin vs. Bone Broth
Gelatin is made by cooking down the skin, cartilage, and bones of animals. If that sounds a lot like making homemade bone broth, that’s because it they have some strong similarities. I’ve even experimented with making bone broth that set firm enough to be cut into bite-sized pieces, which is basically the process of making gummies from scratch. The dogs loved it, but it takes a lot of time and effort to make gummies that way. Gelatin is super quick and easy.
Quality gelatin has many of the same good healthy qualities and can be used as a sprinkle, in baking, and to make very quick and easy gelatin gummy dog treats. I still make bone broth for our dogs on a regular basis, but I just freeze it in a tray and then store the cubes for ready use. Its great on its own as well as in gummies and many other recipes. Bone broth contains collagen/gelatin, but (when homemade) it’s a less processed whole food, with all sorts of other nutrients. Plus, it has a great scent and taste that drives our dogs wild. Cue the drool!
Choosing the Right Gelatin for Making Gummy Treats
Shopping for a Quality Gelatin
Because gelatin is essential a by product protein, made with bones, skin, hides, etc, I’m happy to pay a bit more and be more confident in the quality. Trying to decide on the quality of gelatin is similar to looking at other animal products. Considerations may include
- Reputation of the company or brand
- What (if any) additives are used
- Protein sources, including the type of animal proteins in the gelatin and the way in which the animal was raised (e.g. grass or pasture fed vs. unspecified or factory / feedlot farming)
- Country of origin (food safety standards, animal welfare standards, etc.)
- Any special product standards or certifications.
Don’t Confuse Standard Gelatin with Hydrolysed Collagen
Gelatin gummies need gelatin. Hydrolysed collagen is still very healthy, but has been put through a form of additional processing that’s actually meant to break up the proteins so that it will dissolve in either hot or cold liquids without gelling, unlike standard gelatin. Many people prefer using it because it can be easily hidden in their foods, smoothies, etc. as a supplement and some people find it easier on the system as well. It can’t be used as a thickener, gelling agent, or to make gummies.
If you’ve accidentally bought the wrong product, all is not lost. Hydrolysed collagen can be used as a sprinkle-on topper or mixed into food or liquids for similar health benefits to gummies. Remember to adjust for suitable serving size and introduce with small quantities.
Making Gelatin Gummies for Dogs
Gelatin Gummy Dog Treat Ingredients
Powdered gelatin can be used with any dog-safe liquid base, including dog-safe stock or broth, plain yogurt, kefir, various milks, pureed fruit, pureed vegetables, or even plain water. Liquids can be mixed and/or other ingredients can be added to the base for scent, flavour, extra nutritional value, or just because you feel like it. You can experiment with compatible flavours using anything yummy and dog safe. I’ll talk more about mixing different ingredients later in this post.
Caution: There are a few special exceptions when working with gelatin, including fruits with protease enzymes (proteolytic enzymes) such as fresh pineapple or kiwi. Some yogurts and kefirs are also high in proteases. These are natural digestive enzymes, and can affect the gelling properties, resulting in a runny jelly. Accidental fails can be salvaged by freezing as pupsicle treats instead.
For healthy goodness, choose a quality gelatin powder, as noted above. I currently use Great Lakes. In my experience, 3 tbsp of gelatin powder per cup of liquid will create nice firm gummies, but if you prefer, you can use more gelatin for added supplementation or less for a jigglier jelly treat with lower gelatin content. Individual gelatin powders may be a little stronger or weaker. Find a ratio that works for your preferences and, of course, your dog.
Making Homemade Gelatin Gummies
Preparing gelatin gummies takes only a few quick minutes, plus hands-off time to set. Cool liquid is measured into the pan and powdered gelatin is evenly sprinkled across the surface. It is then left to sit for around five minutes (can leave it longer, if you wish) to fully hydrate and bloom. Once bloomed, it can be gently heated and stirred until the bloomed gelatin is completely dissolved.
Alternatively, a measured quantity of hot liquid can be added to bring the bloomed gelatin up to temperature for dissolving. If using this method, it’s essential to make sure your total liquid measurement is suitable for the quantity of bloomed gelatin to ensure your gummies set correctly.
The completed mixture can then be poured into silicon moulds for shaped gummies or a suitable container for set-and-cut treats, and placed in the refrigerator until firmly set. As with all types of food and treats, it’s important to make sure that the shape and size is suitable for your pet, both in terms of treat content and safe eating.
We walk you through the steps above, along with any other special instructions, in the individual posts for all of our gummy dog treat recipes.
Gummy Dog Treat Making Tips and Tricks
- Volumes are very easily scaled. If you want a precise measure of a specific pan or mould capacity, you can do a test pour from a measuring cup of water to measure the volume required to fill and scale your added gelatin powder to suit the volume of liquid for your batch of treats.
- In my experience, 3 tbsp of gelatin powder per cup of liquid makes firm gummies, but as noted above you can use more gelatin for added supplementation or less for a jigglier jelly treat with lower gelatin content. Individual gelatin powders may be a little stronger or weaker. Find a ratio that works for your preferences and, of course, your dog.
- I like prepare my gelatin in a pan for the additional surface area, which is helpful for blooming.
Pans and Moulds:
- If you’re using shaped pans, keep them simple for easy breakage-free removal. I find that flexible moulds work best as stiff moulds can be tricky for removal.
- Supple silicon moulds are tricky to move when full of liquid, so place of a portable surface to help you get things into the fridge without mess and stress.
- When pouring into moulds, I like transferring from my prep pan into a coffee milk jug. It’s stain resistant, heat safe, easy pour, and dishwasher-friendly. Awesome!
Setting and Storage:
- If you’re not confident in getting your mould safely into the fridge without spilling, you can let it sit at room temperature briefly to begin gelling, then transfer to the fridge to set firm. Like any food (dog or human), brief is better, if possible, before cooling for food safety.
- Don’t be tempted to take try to take the treats out of the moulds too soon. It will be much easier to remove the gummies when fully set.
- Once set, gummies are ready to eat, but for an even better “real” gummy texture and feel, after you have taken the treats out of the mould (or cut into pieces from your pan), return them to the refrigerator on a plate or tray uncovered to dry for a day before normal container storage. Don’t leave them uncovered for too long, as they will continue to dry out.
- Gummy treats should be kept refrigerated and can be frozen for longer storage, although freezing can affect consistency. See below for more details on storage.
Mixing Liquid Ingredients for Gelatin Gummy Treats
If you’re mixing ingredients, depending on the ingredients and your preferences, you may want to pre-mix as an all-in-one base or split the preparation.
Premixing Liquid Ingredients Before Preparing Gummies
You can premix most liquids in the pot or pan you plan to use for making the gelatin. If you’re working with temperature sensitive ingredients, you may prefer to split the preparation (see below). If you’re working with a thick ingredient, incrementally adding the thinner liquid and stirring it in can help reduce clumping for an easier mixing. If you’re using chunky add-ins and prefer a more uniform mixture, you can put your ingredients through a blender or food processor to create a base.
Tip: As a sneaky little shortcut when making quick batches of broth gummies, I sometimes bloom the gelatin on cool water and then drop my frozen dog-safe homemade broth cubes straight from the freezer into the pan to melt at the same time as I dissolve my gelatin. It’s super quick/efficient and works perfectly! Just make sure the total measurements work for the gelatin to liquid ratio.
Splitting Ingredients During the Preparation of Gummies
Splitting the preparation can be helpful for a number of reasons, but be careful with your total measurements. Splitting can be particularly useful to minimise the heat exposure of liquid ingredients.
I like to split my base for yogurt and kefir to protect the probiotic content. To do this, I prepare the gelatin in a measured quantity of liquid (making sure my total after combining is the 3:1 ratio above) and then make sure the prepared mixture is below 50C (120F) before stirring it into the yogurt or kefir.
I also like to split preparation when adding fruit and veggie purees, just so they’re still semi raw and fresh. Splitting can also be helpful when working with opaque ingredients. If you’re new to gummy making in particular, it can be hard to judge when the gelatin is fully dissolved when you have an opaque or speckled base.
Tip: Peanut butter is a special exception, as it can be tricky to blend or melt uniformly into a water-based gelatin mixture. You can read here how I make gelatin gummies with peanut butter.
Adding Dry (or Chunky) Ingredients to Gelatin Gummy Treats
When to Combine the Ingredients
When I started making gummy dog treats years ago, I used to add most dry ingredients to the base (unless splitting) before preparing the gelatin. It works, but I’ve come to prefer adding after preparation instead. No issues with visibility, no unnecessary heating, and easy to get a uniform blend. It’s also a good way to make a variety of gummy treats with a single small batch of gelatin base, if you’re trying something new.
Adding Small Dry or Powdered Ingredients
When adding powders, I measure the powder into my pouring container. As noted in the helpful hints above, I like using a coffee milk jug when I make gummies. I then mix a small quantity of the prepared gelatin with the powder to dissolve and mix with minimal lumps and clumps. Once mixed, I add the rest of the gelatin and mix to thoroughly combine.
Using Ingredients that Don’t Dissolve
When adding chunky things or ingredients that don’t dissolve, such as dried herbs, chunky puree, etc. these tend to sink or float in the liquefied gelatin. They’ll still stick to the set mixture, just either settled on the bottom (top when removed from pan) or floating on the top (bottom when removed from pan). You can even use this to create decorative effects in your gummies, if you’d like! On the down side, anything that settles thickly (like powders) may affect clean removal from moulds depending on settled quantities and thickness.
If you’d prefer things more evenly distributed in the gelatin mixture as suspended solids, you will need to cool the gelatin down to just above its setting point. Let it become thick and viscous enough to hold the floating and/or sinking pieces distributed through the gummy. Slowly, stirring periodically, allow the mixture to cool and thicken. You can do this at room temperature, or you can speed things up using the fridge (or an ice bath, if you prefer). When the mixture has thickened enough, spoon/pour the finished gelatin mixture into your moulds and chill to set.
Troubleshooting Setting Problems
With the exception of the protease enzymes, as noted above, the most common culprit is something going awry during prep. The blooming liquid needs to be cool and the sprinkled gelatin should slowly hydrate and plump up into a thick grainy gel. Itsort of reminds me of applesauce, but with surface wrinkles. Don’t be tempted to stir it during blooming. Once fully bloomed, the mixture can be slowly heated to dissolve the grains. It needs enough heating to fully dissolve, but don’t cook the mixture. High temperatures can also weaken gelatin’s ability to gel.
The quantity of powder-to-liquid noted above is generally great for us and we’ve tested with multiple brands, but gelatins do have different strengths. If things are consistently soft with good bloom and dissolving, try using a little more for a firmer set.
Tip: Gelatin will re-dissolve with gentle heat, so you can try reusing failed mixtures with additional bloomed gelatin, but it is much easier (and likely less frustrating, especially if the cause is uncertain) to salvaged by freezing as pupsicle treats instead.
Storing Homemade Gelatin Gummy Dog Treats
Gummies will remain firm at room temperature, but are best refrigerated for food safety. Even if the ingredient you use are stable, once mixed, all bets are off.
Gummy treats can be frozen for longer storage, although this can affect consistency. They’re so easy to make, I prefer doing frequent small batches and using fresh from the fridge. If gummies are frozen, I find that defrosting in the fridge uncovered on a plate or dishtowel helps to make sure that they thaw semi-dry instead of getting a little slippery. Freezing causes gelatin to separate which tends to bleed out some of their liquid content in addition to condensation factors.
At warmer temperatures, the gelatin in the gummies will start to melt back into a liquid. The melting temperature depends of a lot of other factors (quality, concentration, other ingredients, etc). This is typically well above room temperature, except perhaps a sizzling summer room, but these are not pocket-friendly treats.
Keen to Try a Few Treats?
Check out the full mini-series topic for an introduction to the main categories of different homemade dog treats we make and share here on the blog:
- Why (and How) to Make Homemade Dog Treats
- Frozen and Chilled Homemade Dog Treats
- Homemade Gelatin Gummy Dog Treats
- Homemade Dehydrated Dog Treats
- Homemade Birthday and Special Occasion Dog Cakes
- Homemade Baked Biscuit (Cookie) Dog Treats
- Decorating Homemade Baked Biscuit Dog Treats
- Homemade Baked Dog Treat Shelf Life and Storage
We have all sorts of treat related posts here on the blog. You can sniff around our DIY dog recipes, use our categories and tags to navigate, or use the internal search function to look for specific types or treats or treat ingredients. You can also hop over to our DIY Dog Treat Recipes board on Pinterest for ideas from here and all around the web. We’ve also started a Pet Chef Help board on Pinterest with handy links on things like ingredients, substitutions, conversions, tinting, and more.
🦴 Remember, treats (bought or homemade) are for spoiling your pup in moderation. We share ideas here from treats that we make ourselves for our pets, but different animals will have different preferences (likes or dislikes) and dietary needs. Some pets may have special dietary requirements and/or food allergies or intolerances. If you are ever in doubt or have questions about what’s suitable for your pet, have a chat with your trusted vet.